Some of the top producing countries for lithium are Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. These three countries are known as the “lithium triangle.”
Chile is the world’s leading source of the element, turning out around 40 percent of global supply, however discoveries in Bolivia, (which opened its first lithium pilot plant in January), suggest that the country may have 50 percent of the world’s reserves, which is enough to power 4.8 billion electric cars.
Australia and China are also major sources of lithium. In 2009 worldwide estimates of known lithium reserves totaled 18,000 tonnes.
Currently, the US imports more than 80 percent of the lithium it uses, however, researchers at the University of Wyoming have found a huge deposit containing 228,000 tons of lithium in Rock Springs Uplift. That’s enough to meet annual US demand, and almost twice as much as the reserves from the biggest domestic lithium producer (located at Silver Peak, in Nevada).
Although we are discovering new deposits of lithium, it is important to note that the rare earth mineral can also be recycled from old batteries.
© 2013, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.
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